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Air Bag Restraint System Expert Witness

Keywords

Airbag, Deployment injury characteristics, Crash Data Retrieval CDR reports, Event Data Recorders, frontal crashes, defective airbag deployment algorithm programming, Knee bolster airbags, General Motors, Ford, Daimler Chrysler, Dodge Ram truck, Chevrolet Impala, Chevrolet Silverado, Pontiac Grand Prix, Chevrolet Camaro, Chevrolet Geo Metro, Cadillac Sedan Deville, Chevrolet Tahoe, GMC Yukon XL, Chevrolet Sonoma, Oldsmobile Alero, Ford F 150, Ford Contour, Ford Explorer, Ford Focus, Mercury Grand Marquis, Lincoln Town Car, Chrysler Lebaron, Dodge Neon, Chrysler Town Country van, Chrysler 300, Toyota Corolla, Mercedes Benz 190,

Texas
Expert No.3469 

Education

University of Arkansas at Fayetteville

1960 BS Chemical Engineering
1964 MS Chemical Engineering
1967 Ph D Chemical Engineering
1966 Society of Sigma XI (Phi Beta Kappa for engineers)

Experience

A Corporation
Dallas, TX (1988-2010)

President
Technical expert and expert witness retained by attorneys for 49 airbag and airbag-related cases filed against General Motors, Ford, Daimler-Chrysler, Toyota, Nissan, Subaru, Hyundai, Kia, Jaguar, Mercedes Benz, TRW, Mazda, Jaguar, Mitsubishi, Honda, BMW, Bosch and numerous dealerships in federal and state courts in Texas, Louisiana, Georgia, Alabama, Ohio, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Mississippi and Arizona. 

Identified frontal and side-impact airbag design defects, airbag manufacturing defects and airbag marketing defects that caused airbag failure to deploy, airbag aggressive deployment, airbag late deployment, airbag deployment with excessive deployment gas temperature, airbag deployment with toxic deployment gas chemicals and airbag deployment with excessive noise for 43 cases where drivers and front seat passengers sustained injuries such as  fatalities, eye injuries, burn injuries, upper and lower extremity injuries, facial and chest injuries, hearing loss, burn injuries requiring amputation and brain injuries.

I have provided 14 depositions and 3 court appearances for these cases.  I have reviewed hundreds of discovery documents, scientific publications and government documents as well as reports, statements, depositions and trial testimonies of expert and fact witnesses. This scientific inquiry also includes extensive examination of vehicle certification reports (FMVSS 208) and crash data/occupant injuries published by NHTSA and the Volpe Center in data bases such as CIREN, NASS & SCI. 

I have examined over 2500 Crash Data Retrieval (CDR) reports downloaded from Event Data Recorders (air bag computers) in General Motors, Ford and  Honda vehicles which show minimum deceleration levels required for deployment of single-stage and dual-stage frontal airbags.

I have also examined specific airbag defect issues  related to;

1.  Deployment and injury characteristics of single stage (not-depowered)  vs. single stage (depowered) vs. dual stage frontal air bags;

2.  Late deployment and injury characteristics of  frontal airbags during frontal crashes into narrow objects such as trees, utility poles & crash cushions;

3.  Airbag deployment gas temperatures that have caused burned holes in air bags and resulted in 2nd and 3rd degree burn injuries to drivers;

4. Frontal airbag late-deployment or no-deployment caused by defective airbag deployment algorithm programming used by airbag computers (Event Data Recorders);

5.  Knee bolster airbags:  deployment characteristics, injuries prevented  and failure to use since introduction in 1999 model year; and

6.  Federal warning labels and missing specific language.

I provided investigation, expert opinions and criminal grand jury testimony  for the Arizona Attorney General's Office for a case filed against the largest airbag manufacturing plant in the U. S. for unsafe workplace safety practices that caused numerous fires and explosions which resulted in numerous worker injuries and a fatality.  The case was settled for $ 1.8 million, the largest fine in Arizona's history.

I have provided attorneys with Discovery Requests that produce the evidence sought on the first motion, thereby avoiding delays in case prosecution and/or proceeding with inadequate evidence.

I have provided attorneys with airbag case deposition questions that have been used to challenge the testimony of both expert and fact witnesses.

Virtex Oil & Gas Corporation
Bristol, VA (1987-1988)

Vice President Engineering & Commercial Development
Designed, constructed, and started up two major fuel alcohol plants.  Developed business architecture, negotiated all contracts, selected and leased, site, procured all equipment, secured feedstock purchases and product marketing agreements, selected and supervised contractor and obtained all environmental, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, and operating permits.

Virginia Oxygenates, Inc.
Bristol, VA (1985-1987)

Vice President Business Development
Worked with Virginia legislature and succeeded in preserving the Virginia fuel alcohol program.

Developed fuel alcohol project that generated $4.2 million gross revenue during the first year of operation, preventing the company's demise and forfeiture of prior year's $5.5 million net operating loss tax benefit.  I developed the project business architecture, obtained unsecured financing for $1.5 million of plant equipment, negotiated all contracts (site lease, feedstock procurement / product marketing, technology selection and licensing, and effluent disposal), designed, built and started up plant, and hired and trained operations staff.

Vice President Technology & Marketing
Succeeded in obtaining first US EPA Section 211(f) Clean Air Act Waiver for methanol / gasoline blends.

Responsible for design and engineering of barge mounted methanol plant program.  Working directly for Litton Industries’ CEO, I had joint responsibility for process and marine technology selection, overall design, selection of engineering contractor and shipyard construction.  Duties also included development of automotive markets for fuel grade methanol.

Celanese Chemical Company
Corpus Christi, New York, Dallas (1966-1980)

Senior Planning Associate
Developed major product line strategies for Strategic Plan for $1 billion annual sales.  Total company computer business model developed and used to develop financial reports for growth strategies.  Defined key activities required by manufacturing, marketing, research and development to maintain product leadership.

Conducted chemical engineering assessment of U.S. and Foreign Patents for chemical processes, reactions systems and catalyst systems for corporate patent attorneys, general counsel and vice president of technology licensing for use in licensing external technology.

Group Leader Process Development
Provide experimental program design and data analysis of bench scale process development programs and plant technical support

Designed, constructed, and operated fully instrumented, continuously operated micro units. Project team and plant work produced substantial earnings increases for world's largest methanol and formaldehyde plants. Supervised two Ph.D. chemists.

Senior Computer Applications Engineer
Developed major computer systems for preliminary and detailed chemical process design.

Senior Pilot Plant Supervisor
Provided chemical and mechanical process designs, construction, and operation of large, fully instrumented pilot plants for major development programs.

Shell Oil Company
Houston, TX (Summers 1963-1964)

Senior Development Engineer
Developed on-line computer control systems for fluid catalytic crackers. Developed computer models for prediction of motor gasoline octane number.

Dupont
Gibbstown, NJ (1960-1962)

Senior Process Engineer
Responsible for operation and maintenance of fully integrated acrylonitrile pilot plant (ORLON monomer) and caprolactam (Nuylon-6 raw material) semi-works.

Airbag Cases

{D-Deposition; DAU-Daubert; T-Trial; G-Grand Jury; P-Plaintiff; De-Defense; Prosecution-Pr}}

1. Airbag deployed during frontal collision with pedestrian - driver punched and injured by aggressive airbag deployment: Toyota Corolla {P}

2. Frontal crash of 1991 Mercedes Benz 190 caused a hole to be burned in driver's side airbag with resulting burn injury to driver’s left hand requiring amputation of fingers. I determined that airbag deployment gas had elevated temperature and contained particulates that would have burned a hole in the airbag were sufficient to cause the burns to the driver's hand. {P} {D}

3. Frontal collision with no airbag deployment: Pontiac Grand Prix {P}

4. Frontal collision without airbag deployment: Ford F-150 {P}

5. Airbag deployment during rear end collision - driver sustained respiratory impairment from exposure to airbag deployment gas: Chrysler Lebaron {P}

6. Inadvertent airbag deployment at highway speed - driver & front passenger injured: Chevrolet Camaro, I determined that the frontal airbags deployed improperly at highway speed and without any frontal collision or deceleration. {P}{D}

7. Passenger punched by airbag - lost sight in one eye: Dodge Neon.  I determined that passenger contact with the single-stage not depowered airbag as it was deploying  caused the eye injuries.  This represent another example of the inherent design defect of single stage not depowered airbags.  Eye injuries to both drivers and passengers from deploying airbags are well documented in the medical literature. {P}{D}

8. Low speed collision with curb, inadvertent deployment - driver punched by airbag, permanent visual impairment: GM Geo Metro.  I determined that the vehicle deceleration during the curb impact was well below the airbag deployment threshold.  The airbags should not have deployed.{P}{D}

9. Failure to deploy during frontal collision with another vehicle - driver hospitalized: Dodge Ram Pickup Truck {P} {D}

10. Failure of passenger side airbag to deploy and fully inflate in frontal collision with another vehicle at highway speed - Passenger fatality: Toyota Camry.  I determined that the passenger frontal airbag deployed improperly by not fully inflating during deployment. {P}{D}

11. Failure of Ford Contour driver airbag to deploy in frontal collision with ditch & rollover - driver fatality {P}

12. Driver punched by airbag during collision with large truck - TBI and burn to left hand, hole burned in airbag: Mercury Grand Marquis TRW and Ford attorneys failed to disqualify my airbag expert testimony in a Daubert hearing before a federal judge.{P}{D & DAU & T}

13. Low speed frontal collision with tree, insufficient severity to deploy airbags, prevented case from being filed: Kia Sportage {P}

14. Failure to deploy during frontal collision with narrow object (metal light pole) driver and passenger injured: Dodge Ram Pickup Truck. Defective airbag deployment algorithm in the airbag computer failed to issue a deploy command because of slow vehicle deceleration produced by frontal collision with a narrow object (metal light pole).
This was a recognized design defect for single-stage not depowered  air bag systems.  {P}

15. Frontal collision with another vehicle at highway speed - failure to deploy, driver injured: Dodge Ram Pickup Truck {P}

16. Failure of side-mpact airbag to deploy, driver sustained Traumatic Brain injury: Chrysler Town & Country Van {P}

17. Failure of side-impact airbag to deploy during side collision with large tree, driver fatality: Cadillac Sedan Deville {P}

18. Failure to deploy during frontal undercarriage collision at highway speed - driver sustained serious facial lacerations from contact with the steering wheel: Chevrolet Tahoe.  A defective airbag deployment algorithm failed to issue a deploy command because of the slow vehicle deceleration produced from the undercarriage collision. {P}{D}

19. Failure to deploy during frontal collision with narrow object (large tree) driver and front passenger hospitalized with serious injuries: Ford Explorer {P}

20. Failure to deploy during frontal collision with ditch - driver injured: GMC Yukon I examined the crash data downloaded from the airbag computer and determined that the first stage of a dual stage airbag system would have deployed.  General Motors had installed dual stage airbag systems in other same year model trucks and should have installed dual stage airbag system in the plaintiff's truck. {P}{D}

21. Prevented case from being filed, case not filed; Frontal collision with curb - insufficient severity to cause frontal airbag deployment: Nissan 300ZX {P}

22. Failure to deploy during frontal collision with narrow object (large tree) at highway speed - driver and passenger fatalities: Chevrolet Silverado Pickup Truck {P} {D}

23. Failure to deploy in frontal collision with ditch at highway speed, driver fatality: Chevrolet Sonoma Pickup Truck {P}

24. Insufficient severity to cause airbag to deploy during frontal collision: Chevrolet Silverado Pickup Truck {P}

25. Failure to deploy during frontal collision with rear of another vehicle - driver injured: Dodge Ram Pickup Truck {P}{D}

26. Passenger punched by deploying airbag during frontal collision with narrow object (bridge abutment) lost sight in one eye: Mazda Protege {P} {D}

27. Failure to deploy during frontal collision with narrow object (large tree) driver fatality: Kia Optima {P}

28. Failure to deploy during frontal collision with ditch-driver seriously injured: Dodge Ram Pickup Truck {P}

29. Driver punched by late deploying airbag during frontal collision with narrow object (crash attenuator) at highway speed - driver hospitalized in coma & sustained Traumatic Brain Injury: Toyota Corolla.  I determined that the airbag failed to deploy because defective crash sensors inability to react properly to slow vehicle deceleration caused by collision with a deformable, narrow object (crash cushion)  {P}

30. Inadvertent airbag deployment during low speed frontal collision - driver sustained burn injury to left arm: Ford Focus.  A hole was burned through the driver's side airbag as a result of excessive deployment gas temperature and particulates. {P}

31. Excessive noise during airbag deployment, driver sustained hearing loss: Lincoln Town Car.  I determined that the airbag deployment produced 150 + dB noise level, a level established to cause hearing loss. {P}

32. Knee bolster airbag deployed during frontal collision and severely injured drivers left leg: Toyota Avalon.  I inspected the vehicle and determined that the knee bolster airbag failed to deploy properly. {P}

33. Frontal airbags failure to deploy resulted in death of driver: Oldsmobile Alero I analyzed the downloaded crash data from the airbag computer and proved that the first stage airbag should have deployed. {P}{D}

34. Driver was injured during frontal collision with Off-Road structures.  Frontal airbags failed to deploy: Jaguar {P}

35. Driver injured during frontal collision, frontal airbags failed to deploy: Dodge Ram Truck {P}

36. Driver injured during frontal collisions with 2nd vehicle followed by tree, airbag deployed {P}

37. 2005 Honda passport, two frontal collisions - one airbag deployment, electronic crash data recording analysis {P}

38. Frontal crash of Mitsubishi 3000 without airbag deployment caused injuries to driver {P}

39. Frontal collision for Ford F-150 Truck with no airbag deployment and injuries to passenger {P}

40. Frontal collision of 2005 Chevrolet Impala with no airbag deployment and occupant injuries.  I analyzed the crash data downloaded from the airbag computer and proved that the first stage airbag should have deployed. {P}

41. Airbag failed to deploy in frontal collision of Dodge Ram pickup truck, driver injured {P}

42. Driver fatality in 1995 Chevrolet pickup truck from frontal collision caused by rear end collision. Airbag failed to deploy {P}

43. Driver fatality in 1995 Chevrolet pickup truck from frontal collision caused by rear end collision. Airbag failed to deploy {P}{D}

44. Driver injured during passenger side side-impact collision in Hyundai Elantra.  I inspected the vehicle and proved that the airbags deployed properly.  Plaintiffs then withdrew their case. {De}

45. Frontal airbags in Chrysler 300 failed to deploy in multiple frontal collisions at highway speeds {P}

46. Airbag plant sodium azide propellant explosion - maintenance worker fatality.  Employer failed to provide a workplace free of recognized explosion hazards. {P}

47. Airbag plant sodium azide propellant explosion - maintenance worker injury.  Employer failed to provide a workplace free of recognized explosion hazards. {P}

48. Airbag propellant explosion - 1 worker killed and 1 worker seriously injured.  Employer failed to provide a workplace free of recognized explosion hazards. {Pr}{G}

49. Defective deployment of side-impact airbags on 2003 Mini Cooper. {P}  

Seatbelts

1. Personal Injury, settled; Driver's seat belt released during frontal collision: Ford Escort

2. Personal Injury, Pending; Passenger was ejected during single-vehicle rollover accident even though seat belt was fastened: Chevrolet Blazer

Infant / Child Seat

1. Defective child seat released from base during frontal collision

Professional Organizations

Society of Automotive Engineers

Publications

Available upon request


Spring 2011 Newsletter

Return to Spring 2011 Newsletter

Reprinted with permission from Author 800-683-9847
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